Not up to the mar­que

VANTAGE - - Your View - Todd K War­ren, Long Is­land, NY

About the Cygnet… That I didn’t write ear­lier re­gard­ing whether the Toy­ota iq with the As­ton Martin grille should be in­cluded in Van­tage’s model list­ings shows that I re­ally have been too busy lately!

So that you know where I’m com­ing from, I’ve been a com­plete gear­head since birth and en­thralled with As­tons since I was five years old. The dream came true in 2009 when I be­came the for­tu­nate owner of a brand new V8 Van­tage (coupé, man­ual ’box, Sports Pack), and about two years ago a 2005 Vanquish S joined the Van­tage in my garage.

I ad­mire ev­ery­thing that As­ton Martin stands for: per­for­mance, el­e­gance, good taste, gor­geous looks, real crafts­man­ship, her­itage, and that in­tan­gi­ble mys­tique that has made al­most ev­ery As­ton im­mensely de­sir­able.

The Cygnet was a to­tal re­jec­tion of ev­ery­thing that made As­ton Martin one of the truly great mar­ques. The no­tion of stick­ing the iconic badge and grille onto a tiny Toy­ota (re­gard­less of how good and ‘of our time’ the iq may have been) and claim­ing it wor­thy of wear­ing the As­ton wings was not merely cyn­i­cal but showed a com­plete lack of un­der­stand­ing of what an As­ton is. This was not ‘managing a brand’ – it placed the mar­que’s iconic stature in se­ri­ous jeop­ardy.

Through­out its his­tory, when one saw a car wear­ing the As­ton grille and badge, one knew it was a sport­ing car that was truly spe­cial, se­ri­ously de­sir­able, and built with real crafts­man­ship (not just in the in­te­rior or on the sur­face) by and for peo­ple pas­sion­ate about the mar­que.

In stark con­trast, on the Cygnet the As­ton grille de­noted cyn­i­cism, fak­ery and taste­less­ness, the mun­dane tarted up to ap­pear spe­cial – ev­ery­thing As­ton Martin was not.

Let us be clear: the Cygnet was not cre­ated be­cause of a re­quire­ment to meet emis­sions stan­dards, which some have ar­gued ex­cused the Cygnet’s ex­is­tence. Ul­rich Bez specif­i­cally stated that emis­sions reg­u­la­tions had noth­ing to do with it, and that he sim­ply thought it was a bril­liant idea. I have a great deal of re­spect for what Dr Bez did for As­ton Martin (and Porsche), but I find this ut­terly dumb­found­ing.

It was no sur­prise to me or most of the As­ton com­mu­nity that the Cygnet sold poorly and was qui­etly dropped. The mis­take will hope­fully re­main a unique one. That the mar­que’s rep­u­ta­tion sur­vived in­tact is a tes­ta­ment to how strong the As­ton Martin name is.

I can’t ar­gue that the Cygnet shouldn’t be listed in Van­tage since they did put it on sale, but I hope they learned to never do some­thing so shame­ful again.

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